Short for Compliance, Safety, Accountability—CSA Scores are the primary means in which the FMCSA identifies high-risk motor carriers. Scores are compiled by gathering data from roadside inspections, crash reports, investigation results and registration details. All this data is then made available on the FMCSA’s Safety Management System (SMS) website—to trucking companies and the public. CSA scores for trucking companies are updated monthly so a process should be put in place to check the most recent scores.
Where To Check Your CSA Scores?
CSA scores for trucking companies can be checked online at FMCSA.com all you need is your DOT number. Drivers driving under their carrier’s DOT number must check violations under your carrier’s number. Scores are between 0 and 100, the lower the better—as each violation adds points to your score. Some violations are a cut and dry point system, some violations are calculated by the severity of, or the volume of the violation. For example, a crash that leads to injury or fatality will impact your score more than simply needing a tow. After 2 years violations are removed from your record.
What Does Your CSA Score Mean?
A driver with a low CSA won’t lose their commercial drivers license, so why does a CSA Score matter? There are plenty of reasons, the most important of which are:
Insurance—the lower your CSA Score, the lower your insurance premiums, the higher your score you will seem as a greater risk and your rates will be higher.
More Clients—CSA scores are a matter of public record, so you must assume that clients are checking your score. Your score is often a determining factor between you and a competitor, but your regular clients will check too.
Recruitment And Retention—your CSA Score matters to your drivers for a variety of reasons. Responsible drivers want to work for responsible companies who prioritize safety. If your fleet is not safe, your driver is not safe, nor the drivers they share the road with.
Fewer Compliance Checks—the higher your score, the more frequent your compliance checks, the lower, the fewer. This includes DOT audits and roadside inspections.
Less Stress—the higher your score, the less you and your drivers and internal team must invest time in managing and mitigating circumstances which are easy to avoid. This isn’t just about external violations but minimizing the internal time, cost and stress of common risk factors.
How Are CSA Scores Calculated?
CSA Scores for trucking companies are calculated in seven different Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories (BASICs). The current categories include:
- Unsafe Driving– Dangerous or careless operation of a vehicle including unsafe driving practices like speeding, improper lane changes, and failure to wear a seat belt.
- Crash Indicator– A high volume of state reported crashes.
- Hours of Service (HOS) Compliance– Incidents of vehicle operation by drivers who are ill, fatigued or non-compliant. Having an ELD will improve this score.
- Vehicle Maintenance– Mechanical defects and failure to make required repairs. Having the correct tools and equipment to secure your load is included in vehicle maintenance.
- Controlled Substance/Alcohol– Impaired driving of any kind: alcohol, illegal drugs, misuse over the counter and prescription drugs, etc.
- Hazardous Materials Compliance– Unsafe or incorrect handling of hazardous materials including leaking containers, improper placarding and missing shipping papers.
- Driver Fitness– Vehicles operated by drivers who are unfit due to lack of training, experience or medical conditions.
Each of these categories has a variety of ways potential violations but this gives you a general idea.
How To Improve Your CSA Score?
If compliance, safety and accountability are a genuine concern then your trucking company will already have a system in place for checks and balances. This includes initial training, recurrent training, scheduled in-house inspections, preventative maintenance, checklists, and consequences for violations. The best way to improve your CSA Score is to implement and maintain your system of checks and balances and utilize your current score as one of the ways in which you update your internal operations. For example, track which violations are most common—or which ones are on the rise. This helps you to determine the areas in which you need to improve so that you can adjust your training accordingly.
CSA Scores are not the same as PSP records, so drivers and trucking companies must not confuse the two. A good practice for maintaining CSA scores is to check driver PSP records prior to hiring them and to only hire drivers who are both honest about their driving records and have a track record of low-risk and responsible driving.